Updates, Errata and Corrections to Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War

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Sometimes it is someone else who made the mistake -- and sometimes it's hard to tell if there is a mistake. And sometime people bend and shade the facts. See these essays on Questionable Quotes and The Arithmetic.

Page 44 -- Typographic Error

In the sidebar box, due to a typesetting error, the image on the right hand side includes the label "Actual parabola trajectory." It should read "Actual parabolic trajectory.:

Page 85 -- Pickett's Charge

In the discussion of Pickett's Charge, there is an editing error which was marked for correction by the authors but not picked up in the printed edition In the bottom of the first column on the page the moment known as the "High-Water Mark of the Confederacy" is described as "the farthest north the South ever got," changing the authors' text, which read "the farthest the South ever got." In fact, Pickett's Charge was from west to east, and Confederate troops were in positions well to the north of the area of the charge before, during and after Pickett's Charge. Many Confederate units were well north of Gettysburg before the battle and had to march south to reach the battle, while Union troops were well to the south and had to march north to Gettysburg.

The High Water Mark was not the moment when the Confederacy controlled the most land, or had gone the farthest from its base. It was the moment when. for the last time, Lee's army got closest to beating the Union Army in a situation that could have brought the Confederacy final victory. If Lee had managed to smash Meade's army, it would have left Lee free to range across Pennsylvania and Maryland -- perhaps even allowed him to occupy Washington. Pickett's Charge was a wave washing up on the shore, splashing higher than any wave before or after -- and then receding, falling back. From that point on, Lee was on the retreat. He had lost the initiative. His remaining battles were essentially all defensive. See here for maps of the Gettysburg campaign and the charge.

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Page 103 -- Naming the Hunley

In column 2, in the first paragraph, in discussing the fact that the submarine H.L. Hunley was named for Hunley because he had provided financial support, the book states "one source says the naming took place later -- in memoriam -- after the boat had killed him." The source in question is a National Park Service document, H.L. Hunley Site Assessment, which credits the National Park Service, the Navy Historical Center, and the S.C. Institute of Archeology and Anthropology. Larry F. Murphy of the NPS's Submerged Cultural Resources Unit is credited as editor. A legible, though low-quality scan of the document is available at http://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/maritime/hunley.pdf . The text of the document, in a wide variety of formats (Epub, PDF, ASCII text, etc.), can be found at https://archive.org/details/hlhunleysiteasse00nati. What appears to be more or less an identical version of the article's text is available at this page of the Navy History and Heritage Command (formerly the Navy Historical Center). Page 32 of the document states that, after Hunley was killed aboard the boat, "[s]urviving members of the group memorialized Hunley's efforts by naming the boat after him." However, in the excellent book Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley by Sally M. Walker, 2005, Carolrhoda Books (division of Lerner Publishing), Minneapolis, MN) there appears on page 27 the image of a hand-written letter that bears the signature H. L. Hunley. It reads in full as follows:

Charleston Septr 19th 1863.

General G. T. Beauregard

Sir -

I am a part owner of the torpedo boat the Hunley. I have been interested in building this description of boat since the beginning of the war, and furnished the means entirely of building the predecessor of this boat which was lost in an attempt to blow up a Federal vessel off fort Morgan Mobile harbor. I feel therefore a deep interest in its success. I propose if you will place the boat in my hands to furnish a crew (in whole or in part) from Mobile who are well acquainted with its management. & make the attempt to destroy a vessel of the enemy as early as practicable.

Very Respectfully,

Your Obt srvt,

H. L. Hunley

This makes it plain that the boat was named for him before his death. Walker provides the following credit for the image of the letter: Old Military Records, Horace L. Hunley, Confederate Papers relating to Citizens or Business Firms, RG 109 Entry M-346. (Ms. Walker was kind enough to report the document is in the National Archives, and that the above is an Archives designation.)

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Page 104-105 -- The Crew of the Hunley

(Note: external links below should open in separate windows or tabs.)

The page 104 illustration, based on drawings and descriptions by William Alexander, one of the Hunley's builders, show eight men working the crank in the boat. With the captain, that would make for a total crew of nine. This figure, based mainly on Alexander's recollection, was for many years the generally accepted number. However, as discussed on page 80 of Secrets of a Civil War Submarine, when the wreck of the Hunley was raised and examined, it was found that there were only seven crank handles, and a total of eight bodies were found aboard. However, many sources agree that the accident to the first crew killed five, with four survivors, for a total of nine aboard. (All eight died in the second crew and eight died in the final crew.)

Why there would have been an extra man aboard during the first accident -- or even how an extra man could have fit aboard the tiny boat -- is unclear. A grisly 1999 discovery confirmed that there were five deaths among the first crew. The graves of four Hunley crewmen from the first crew were among graves discovered during excavation beneath the Citadel's football stadium in 1999. They were confirmed as being the remains of Hunley crewmen because it would appear that the bodies had had their legs and arms chopped off after death -- a gruesome task that had to be done in order to get their contorted bodies through the tiny hatches of the sub. A fifth Hunley crewman's grave was found later during the excavation.

The following lists of crew names are based on information from this link on The Patriot Files website. It should be noted that full names are not known for three members of the third crew: C. F. Carlson, C. Simkins, and Miller, and that there are variant spellings of their names in various sources. C. Simkins, strange as it may seems, is a variant of the name Lumpkins or C. Lumpkin -- under which name this crewman is buried. There have been other debates about the identity of the body buried under the name Miller.

First Crew: August 29th, 1863
Michael Cane
Nicholas Davis
Frank Doyle
Charles Hasker (survived)
John Kelly
Lt. John A. Payne (survived)
Charles L. Sprague (survived)
Absolum Williams
William Robinson (survived)
Second Crew: October 15, 1863
Horace Hunley - captain
Robert Brookbank
Joseph Patterson
Thomas Parks
Charles McHugh
Henry Beard
John Marshall
Charles L. Sprague
Third Crew: February 17, 1864
Lt. George E. Dixon
Arnold Becker
Corporal C. F. Carlson
Frank Collins
C. Simkins
Joseph Ridgeway
James A. Wicks

It should be noted that this page about the first crew at the generally authoritative Friends of the Hunley website only lists eight for the first crew, omitting Charles L. Sprague. However, this page at the Friends of the Hunley site reports five killed and four survivors. According to various other sources, Sprague was the only man to be aboard the Hunley twice when she sank -- he did not survive the second event. Other sources report eight crew during the first accident, include Sprague, and omit Hasker -- although Secret's of a Civil War Submarine include's Hasker's detailed and vivid account of his escape. The Dictionary of American Fighting Ships (DANFS) entry for the Hunley report five drowned and three survived. The Hunley Online Newsletter Issue 29 reports a crew of nine, but suggests that one Jeremiah Donivan, and not William Robinson, was the fourth survivor. (Some accounts report three named and one un-named survivor -- the Newsletter suggests the unnamed survivor could have been Robinson or Donivan.) Clearly, certainty is a hard thing to come by on this topic. Here's a news story from 2001 with yet another slight variation on the story.

It's also worth noting that the above names are those who served aboard the Hunley during the three times she sank. They are conventionally referred to as the First, Second, and Third Crews -- but it is plain that more men than these went on board the boat at one time or another. It appears than men were added to and dropped from the crew, often as fill-in substitutes. There would appear to have been many different combinations of crew and captain during the boat's career. Dixon does appear to have trained the men in the final crew together rigorously, but that was not so much the case for the first two crews. It would be overstating the case to say that whoever happened to be hanging around on the dock might be asked to fill in for a truant crewman, but it wasn't too far off from that at times. The main point is that the three named crews should be thought of the men who happened to be aboard during three particular events, but not as three tightly-knit groups that always worked together -- or as the only three crews that ever were.

One additional note: In researching our book we come across some sources that say there was a fourth crew that met with disaster. To cite one example: the following quote is from page 68 of the book It Happened in the Civil War by Michael Raymond Bradley, Globe Pequot, Guilford, Connecticut, 2002: "[after the August 29th sinking] Payne tried again, only to have Hunley swamped by the wake of a passing boat, this time with the loss of six crew members. The ship was again raised from the bottom of the harbor, and H. L. Hunley took charge of the boat with a crew brought from Mobile." (The book was viewed the book on books.google.com, and the preview available did not allow display of Bradley's sources for this statement.) However, as discussed at circa page 100 of Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine, by Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropf, Random House, New York, 2003, rumors and tall tales grew up around the submarine after the war, and it seems extremely likely that the two reported sinkings with Payne on board were in fact two varying accounts of the same event. As discussed above, it is still difficult to establish who or how many were aboard when she went down for the first time. (And various accounts report that Payne did not go aboard the boat again after the first sinking.) According to Hicks and Kropf, some versions reported that the Hunley sank six times, and killed 30, or even 50 crew! As a mere matter of practicality, given the length of time it took to recover the sunken boat, remove the dead, and clean the boat after the first and second sinkings, and given the documented dates and facts surrounding the Hunley, it seems highly unlike;y that there was even time for her to sink and be recovered any more often than she was. The above crew members are all accounted for, and those that died aboard the Hunley are all buried together at Magnolia Cemetary in Charleston. There is no need to add additional, imaginary, victims to the list.

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